The Secret To Handling Digital Disruption

A variety of photos are projecting out of a black background. Use it for a photography internet gallery or digital movie concept.
SHARE
THIS



Ahead of Digital Disruption X, Mark Cohen, GM of Product Solutions at Fairfax Media shares three ways Fairfax is placing innovation at the core of their business on their journey towards digital transformation.

1. Fostering an innovation culture

We work hard to foster and create an innovation culture and we create open space for creative thinking through our innovation programmes. The aim of these programmes is to encourage creativity and out-of-the-box thinking enterprise-wide, which can result in new innovative products for our customers.

We run an innovation programme called ‘Ignition’ which was started in my team. It’s like Kick-starter crossed with a hack-a-thon. The concept provides staff with the ability to upload their business ideas to an internal website, where it stays for three months. The first month is the seeding phase where we collect ideas; the next month are the ‘funding phases’ where people are encouraged to recruit funding and backers for their projects.

The third month is the “build” phase, where teams put their prototype together, culminating in a half-day of showcases.

Ignition has a big social element to it, but it’s also like a school version of creating a start-up. It has really helped build an innovation culture throughout our business, as well as taking that innovation to the next level of product development.

For example, through Ignition we built a technology app called ‘Spritz’ which was a speed reading app. We trialled using this on the top of Sydney Morning’s content online, to enable our customers to speed read and get through the day’s top ten news’ stories in ten minutes. Whilst the theory was great and the core technology was great, when we tested it our customers didn’t like the experience.

As a result, we kept the core technology and we transformed it with a new user interface into a Google glass app which we launched internationally. From our internal innovation hub, we’re creating new ideas and new products which we’re refining and giving to our customers to meet their needs.

2. Aligning our products with customer needs

If you define yourself as a company that exists with a higher purpose and build a product that’s more aligned to this definition, the transition to digital is going to be easier.

When we started Fairfax Digital, it was an isolated spin-off from print. We had our own offices and we didn’t share anything with print we didn’t want to. Over time, as print declined, we then combined the digital business into the print business and that’s the way we’re running now.

As part of our digital transformation strategy, we’ve really focused on defining ourself based on our customers, as opposed to the medium we’re using to talk to them. From a media perspective, we assumed the audiences we were building online are those that used to read print and we could easily transition them from one channel to the other.

But the truth is: disruption is not a linear transition. It’s a re-forming of the whole industry. As we move into digital, we are not just fighting to secure our audience we used to have in print, we’re effectively reacquiring them. If we define our higher purpose as “to inform and entertain” then new competitors emerge such as free-to-air- TV, Netflix and foreign clickbait-style media providers.

The generational shift that is hitting not only the media sector, but other industries, is the shift to mobile. When a media company goes mobile, they’re not just trying to secure the audience who used to read news in print; they’re fighting for the attention of people who want to be informed across a number of channels.

It doesn’t matter how our customers wanted to consume information in the past – it’s an entirely new world. Understanding this has been key to the way we are integrating digital into our overall business transformation.

3. Ask yourself: who is going to disrupt your business?

In the wake of digital, new players have emerged who can take away your customers. It’s critical to look at who you think should be consuming your product, and who doesn’t, and understand why.

To stay ahead of the curve, we try to answer the question: if a customer is not using our product, then who are they using in place of us? Because that is who is going to disrupt us.

For example, a customer who wants to get the news – if they’re not reading Sydney Morning Herald, then who are they reading? Part of our strategy is to look beyond our old head-on competitors and to investigate emerging technologies and how we can harness them to reach and engage our customers.

Facebook is the perfect example. There was a survey which recently revealed that a third of people in the United States said that their primary source of news was Facebook. So that’s an example of someone who is disrupting us.

As a result we continually ask the following questions: what are they doing that’s disrupting you? What is the platform they’re providing? Why are people seeing that as a new source? How can we compete with that or offer something they can’t?

They’re the real questions businesses need to ask in order to remain innovative and disrupt their own business in the wake of digital.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Case Study: How Content Helped Tribal Marketing Come To Life Amongst Rev-Heads.
  • Opinion

Case Study: How Content Helped Tribal Marketing Come To Life Amongst Rev-Heads.

In this guest post, CEO of content marketing agency Edge, Fergus Stoddart (pictured below), says brands would do well to play on their customer’s loyal tribalism… Normally over Christmas, any downtime is spent asleep on the sofa, mildly lubricated with a belly full. This year, with the Ashes in the background, I managed to stay awake […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Red Bull Holden Racing Team Unveils 2018 Cars On Sydney Harbour
  • Marketing

Red Bull Holden Racing Team Unveils 2018 Cars On Sydney Harbour

Red Bull Holden Racing team took the covers off its 2018 Holden Commodore Supercar today. Floating on a barge in Farm Cove, the harbour provided a stunning backdrop for the reveal. Teammates Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen have won the past two championships for the squad. Whincup, now the greatest of all time with seven Supercar’s titles, […]

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Technology

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency

As part of its summer fire campaign, the Victorian government has launched a virtual reality (VR) bushfire experience and content series via The Fuel Agency. The VR experience places the user in the midst of a large bushfire, and is designed to encourage people to leave early on high-risk days before it’s too late. The […]

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass
  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Technology

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass

ad tech company VeNA has signed an exclusive reseller partnership covering Australia and New Zealand with digital rugby network RugbyPass. Across Asia and parts of Europe, RugbyPass is the exclusive digital rights holder and over-the-top broadcaster for live rugby, including the Super Rugby, the Rugby Championship and autumn internationals, the Six Nations, the Aviva Premiership, […]

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD
  • Advertising

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD

Video advertising platform SpotX has announced it has appointed Gavin Buxton as managing director of Asia to lead the company’s expansion in the region. Buxton has over 17 years’ global experience in the digital advertising space, having worked in leadership roles at tech and publishing companies, including Microsoft, Turner Broadcasting, and LinkedIn, with the last […]

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands

B&T Awards 2017 finalist Big Mobile has unveiled a fresh look to reflect its new ad tech credentials. The company successfully pivoted its business from ad network to mobile ad tech vendor when it announced a joint venture (JV) with Widespace in October last year. As a result of the business changes, Big Mobile wanted […]

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager
  • Advertising

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager

Independent ad agency March One has appointed a fresh face to the team, with Melanie Tozer to reinforce its mission to put humans first as a senior account manager. Tozer (pictured above), an up-and-coming talent from New Zealand, will align her extensive experience in FMCG marketing with March One, having worked on accounts for Bunnings […]